Heart disease is a broad term that includes a number of diseases that affect the heart and the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart. Due to this reason, there are a large number of heart diseases and it is possible that an individual may suffer from different types of heart diseases at the same time. The heart beats throughout the lifetime of an individual, collecting impure blood from different parts of the body and sending it to the lungs for purification. It then collects pure blood from the lungs and pumps it back to the cells throughout the body. Since it is involved with supplying oxygen and nutrients through the blood to different parts of the body, malfunctioning of the heart has severe consequences. The different types of heart diseases can be classified based on the part of the heart that gets affected and they are discussed below:
Disease of the Heart Chambers
The human heart is a four chambered organ. When the functioning of any of these chambers is affected, the blood pumping capacity of the heart gets reduced. Disease of the heart chambers include congestive heart failure (heart failure) or the pulmonary heart disease in which the ventricle gets enlarged. In congestive heart failure, the heart is either not able to receive enough blood from the lungs or cannot force out oxygenated blood to the rest of the body or both.
Although a heart failure is caused due to the inability of the chambers to function properly, it refers primarily to a condition where the flow of blood in and out of the heart is impaired. This condition may be the result of other causes like heart attack, cardiomyopathy or cardiac arrest as well.
Disease of the Arteries and Veins
Diseases of the arteries and veins are referred to as cardiovascular diseases. These diseases are caused due to the thickening of the blood vessels due to deposition of plaque that impairs blood supply to heart. As one grows old, fats get deposited on the walls of the blood vessels. These fatty substances produce certain chemicals that make the walls of the blood vessels sticky, that in turn attract substances like proteins and inflammatory cells traveling through the blood. All these substances combine to form a material called plaque that thickens the walls of the blood vessels. This condition is known as atherosclerosis, and believed to be the number one killer in America. Improper blood supply to the heart may result in chest pain and a heart attack. Coronary heart disease refers to the astherosclerosis of the coronary arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart.
Disease of the Heart Muscles
Cardiomyopathy is a progressive disease of the heart muscles. The muscles of the heart called the myocardium, get thickened and/or stiff. This hinders the ability of the heart to pump blood efficiently. The result is irregular heart beats, chest pains and fatigue. While dilated cardiomyopathy is caused because the left ventricle gets enlarged and weakened, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy refers to the thickening of the muscle walls specially of the septum between the ventricles. Myocarditis is another disease of the heart muscles which cause inflammation in the muscles of the heart as a result of viral infection.
Diseases of the Valve
Flow of blood within the chambers of the heart is controlled by four valves. If the valves suffer from a disease, then they may become stiff and do not allow proper transfer of blood. Due to this the blood that accumulates behind the valve presses against it. This might cause congestive heart failure and angina. Mitral valve prolapse, tricuspid stenosis and mitral stenosis are some of the diseases of the heart valves. Sometimes, rheumatic fever damages the valves and results in the rheumatic valve disease.
Disease of the Electrical System
The diseases that affect the electrical system of the heart are called arrhythmias. The pumping of the heart is controlled by electrical impulses. If these impulses are not received by the heart properly, the heart may beat too fast; referred to as tachycardia, or too slow; generally known as bradycardia. These kinds of heart diseases include sinus tachycardia, sinus bradycardia, atrial flutter and ventricular tachycardia, to name a few.
Disease of the Lining
The inner lining of the heart is called the endocardium, whereas the pericardium is the large membranous bag that encloses the heart. Any condition that affects either of these two structures leads to a heart disease. Endocartitis is the inflammation of the endocardium. The valves are the most commonly affected parts in this disease. Inflammation of the pericardium is known as pericarditis.
Congenital Heart Diseases
Although most of the heart diseases develop as a result of age or one's lifestyle, certain people are born with heart diseases. Such diseases are called congenital heart diseases. These can affect any part of the heart, be it the valves, heart muscles or the blood vessels. Such diseases include defect in the septum called the ventricular septal defect (VSD), and trial septal defect (ASD). Some of the other diseases included in this category are the pulmonic stenosis, coarctation of the aorta and the tricuspid atresia.
Other Heart Diseases
Cardiac tumor which can be malignant or benign, hypertensive heart diseases which include complications like high blood pressure, heart failure and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy are other common heart diseases.
Our present lifestyle is the main threat to our heart's health. An effective way of keeping ourselves free of the various heart diseases is to keep a check on our diet, and also being physically active.